The Ferrata Maximilian is a daring ridge path that runs along the rocky rib that connects the Denti di Terrarossa with the Cima di Terrarossa near the alp of Tires in the province of Bolzano. The itinerary is difficult and in some aspects more similar path to a simple climbing route than to the classic vertical but aided via ferrata. The aided sections are of medium-low difficulty while the various unprotected points with passages of I and sometimes of II degree require attention and a firm foot. However, the trip gives us a wonderful view of the peaks of the nearby Dolomites and beyond.
The starting point of the itinerary is the town of Lavinia Bianca in the province of Bolzano. You can reach the village from Bolzano reaching Prato Isarco and then keeping to the right in the direction of Tires. Then proceed to Lavinia Bianca and park in the large free parking area of the Natural Park Visitor Center. Directions for Google Maps available here.
As with many routes, you could also proceed with other starting points. In this case a valid alternative - but which involves the ascent by cable car - is the departure from Siusi going up to the Campaccio by cable car and then following the indications for the Passo dell'Alpe di Tires.
A premise must be made before describing the approach. The Maximilian Ferrata can be taken in the direction of Rifugio Tires - Rifugio Bolzano or vice versa. In the case of departure from Rifugio Tires, the most difficult stretches are covered - either aided or not - downhill. Our itinerary will consider the verse Rifugio Bolzano - Rifugio Tires because it is less difficult but nothing prevents you from following it in the opposite direction.
Without this premise, we start from the parking lot (1200 m) following the steep path 2 in the woods. We go through some bends and zig zags until we enter a long gully that we will have to go up again. Back up the Canalone Barengalle we reach a characteristic stretch where we go up the valley with one series of wooden walkways that lead us to the Sella Cavaccio where we will have a saddle that will lead us to the Rifugio Bolzano:
Reached the Bolzano hut (2450 m - 3h 15 'from the parking lot), we continue to the right following the indications of the path 4 that runs along the Scillar slabau. We ignore the first saddle (path 1) and, remaining on path 4 we continue without particular difficulties to a new crossroads:
We hold the left and we are ready to start the Ferrata Maximilian (2560 m - 4h 30 'from the parking lot).
Leaving the CAI path 4 we climb steeply up the path following small signs to bridge the difference in height of about 100 m to reach Cima di Terrarossa marked by a small cross (2655 m - 20 'from the junction). We start by descending a few meters of easy ridge path with the destination of our itinerary - the Tiers Hut - clearly visible under the ridge that characterizes the Ferrata Maximilian. We continue on the aerial path but not difficult until we meet one faded metal slab which indicates the beginning of the aided section (10 'from Cima Terrarossa).
We are now going along a first section of descent aided quite steep and exposed but not difficult. After descending this steep section we find ourselves in the first part of descent in quite difficult free. We will have to go around a sharp section of the ridge and descend to the right side of the ridge. Let's now walk a couple of other simpler downhill passes and reach one oblique inclined ramp in which the present equipment gives us more security than in the previous pass on the ridge. We continue downhill reaching an earthy saddle where an escape route to the underlying path 4 towards the Rifugio Alpe di Tires is indicated (40 'from Cima Terrarossa).
We now walk along a series of unstable little rocks on the right side of the ridge and we go up a rather vertical but aided section before going along a stretch of easier ridge path anyway with strong exposure on both sides. Turning around, we see the Cima di Terrarossa and the stretch of the ridge we have just covered. We are now preparing to go up a narrow chimney which is decidedly easier to travel in this direction than downhill. You can take advantage of some good natural grips for the feet in the ascent and a little reassuring piece of rope on the right side. Coming out of the chimney we are in an aerial tract of ridge to go between salts and downs reaching a new saddle where you can enjoy the view, of ridge just traveled and underlying hut next to the precipices on our sides.
We continue now going up a beautiful one vertical aided wall definitely climbable beyond which we meet one of the most iconic points of the trip. A natural rock arch from which we will have to go down - attention to the debris not properly stable. We now walk along a comfortable ridge path that gradually narrows and becomes again rocky and sharp look at to descend following the metal equipment that help us to descend some more pronounced leaps. We now reach a saddle from which we will descend to the right on a steep gully in a southerly direction. Some sections of this steep descent they are aided while other connecting sections are not protected and the greatest difficulty is the unstable debris bottom. We continue the descent of the gully bypassing down some boulders that hinder the path up to cover the last one aided descent section than to the right around a wall and brings us - after descending the last unsupported rocks - at the end of the climb. We cover the last meters of descent seeing the scope before us Rifugio Alpe di Tires (2440 m - 1h from the rock arch - 2h 30 'from junction 4B from which the via Ferrata Maximilian was undertaken - 7h total).
If we want to return to the parking the shortest route from Rifugio Tires is to take path 3 which to the right in a western direction runs parallel to the above Ferrata Maximilian until it meets a saddle. Go straight back to the Rifugio Bolzano, while we will keep the left going down a steep and partly aided section called "Buco dell'Orso". We will walk down this always keeping the path 3 and ignoring the crossroads 3A and 3B in the direction of Rifugio Bergamo. We continue downhill along the beautiful Ciamin valley until we reach Lavinia Bianca where we ignore the crossroads for path 13 and we stay on Trail 3 which leads us near the parking lot (2h 15 'from Rifugio Tires - total 9h 15').
The Maximilian Ferrata is often the subject of misunderstandings about the various reviews. The aided sections are in excellent condition and present medium-low difficulty - with the exception of the downhill stretch from the Dente di Terrarossa which certainly deserves more attention. However the trip extends in a decidedly exposed stretch where there are many passages of free climbing (I degree with a II degree) that deserve to be underlined. The area has an escape route and therefore, if you decide to undertake the trip, you must have calculated to carry it out as in some places, the return could be more difficult than the continuation. That being said, we are talking about an trip with an alpine nature and, in that context, of medium-easy difficulty.
Given the long difference in height and the length of the itinerary, one could consider taking the hike in two or more days, perhaps staying overnight at altitude and following one of the other via ferratas in the area of the Catinaccio.
The Ferrata Maximilian is an excellent springboard for a series of aided trips in the Catinaccio area. Obviously it is necessary to plan the timing and levels of difficulty of the various routes, however, it could be combined in itineraries of several days the nearby via ferratas Laurenzi and at Catinaccio of Antermoia as well as going down along the Vajolet valley and staying in one of the various shelters you could evaluate the the Passo Santner via ferrata or the most demanding Ferrata Bepo de Medil as well as the Aided path of the Scalette. If there is the possibility of linking several days in this area, there are many aided itineraries that are of interest to enthusiasts.